Masks

{Mounting soap box}

Who would have thought that such a simple thing would end up so complicated? I know I’m deviating from my current music theme, but lately I have been simply amazed at the way people are reacting to a simple precautionary measure. The government is not telling you what to do and disposable masks do not limit air flow (Some of the cloth ones do).

Doctors and nurses have been wearing masks all day long for hundreds of years. You can do this.

The instructions seem simple enough:

  • I wear a mask to protect you.
  • You wear a mask to protect me. (Thank you for that by the way!!)
  • Wash you hands and try to not touch your face.
  • The mask has to cover your nose and mouth.

That’s basically it, but for some reason people especially don’t get that last bullet.

I went to a local Italian restaurant outdoor patio on Saturday night. The servers were all wearing masks but one of the servers masks kept slipping down so his nose was sticking out. Between that and his desire to rearrange everything on the table when he brought our food, we all felt like our attempt to protect him was a waste of time. By the end of the night several of the servers were walking around cleaning up tables with no masks. That in itself would have been ok, if they hadn’t stopped to talk to everyone.

Today I was in a hardware store checkout line and there was a lady in front of me wearing a home made mask with (I assume) her grand daughter. She had a really big nose and it stuck out over the mask potentially showering everything around her with germs. Based on the size of her nose and her height, I figured it could be a four block radius. Her grand daughter was maybe 6, but her mask was designed exactly the same way. I guess they were following the instructions posted on the door as they were wearing a mask inside the store, but what happens next week when her grand daughter wears that mask back to school?

Don’t get me started on what a great idea sending kids back to school is… {sigh}

Just prior to that incident, I was in a line at service Ontario with my son who was getting plates for his first car. We both had masks on in the line, but more than half of the rest of the people were carrying them because they were outside. At different points the line moved in ways that cause us to almost bump into each other. If you’re carrying a mask, why not put it on? There was an elderly lady in line and a young man snagged a chair from a local restaurant and brought it to her. She was wearing a mask but he was carrying his. So she was protecting him and he could very well be killing her with his act of kindness.

I’d like to think that people are trying to do their bit to stop Covid, but they just don’t seem to understand the four bullets. If you want to be part of the solution, wear a mask but wear it properly! You’re not protecting yourself or anyone else with you nose hanging out.

If we work together we can beat this thing without loosing a generation in the process.

{Dismounting soap box}

P.S. Watch for the song “Stupid” on the next album and if you haven’t checked out the current album, you can find it here:

http://northof60.hearnow.com

 

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Julio Santos

Hey Readers,

I would like to take a break from writing about my own musical adventure and introduce you to a friend who collaborated with me on track #11 on “Wind & Fire”.

Julio Santos lives in Ottawa but is originally from Brazil. I watched a few of his online videos and asked him if he would help me with some latin guitar for a song that I wrote while in Mexico. I’ll tell you more about that song in another post.

Julio’s first album was

released in May of 2020.

He is just about to release a second album (thanks to having extra time on his hands due to Covid).

Available on September 1.

I collaborated with Julio on one of the songs on this latest album. The music is relaxing latin tunes with songs in English and Portuguese.

Julio’s music is available on iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify and a long list of other streaming sites.

Julio has also released a companion song book for the album that contains lots of pictures, a bio and the lyrics for all the songs. You can download the book here:

Brazilian Rhythm Vol. 1 – Songbook

Please support Julio by buying and listening to his music.

 

 

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Child of fortune

A child of fortune is defined as a person that is considered lucky.

I have always been the kind of person who lives for tomorrow. For me tomorrow holds the promise of new adventures, new opportunities to learn, new places to discover and new people to meet. I am no stranger to hard work and as a generalist with an ever growing skillset, there are always new skills to acquire.

I guess I consider myself a child of fortune. I have had some pretty challenging life events, but I have managed to almost always come out on top. I don’t think that luck played a big part in the outcomes, but I do believe that hard work, an open mind and a “can do” attitude did.

My definition of a child of fortune would be a person that creates their own luck by learning whatever they need to accomplish their goals. A person who doesn’t know how to quit, even in the face of adversity. A person that plans for the future but lives in the present. A person not afraid to fail because failure is the path to knowledge and knowledge eventually leads to success.

“Child of Fortune” is track #2 on the album “Wind & Fire”

http://northof60.hearnow.com

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A Special kind of Crazy

We live in a crazy time. I can say that because I have 62 years under my belt and I have seen a fair amount of crazy. Lately we’ve been experiencing something I call “A special kind of Crazy”.

If we look back on 2019, President Trump was impeached! but nothing happened.

The USA was separating children from parents at their southern boarder and placing those kids in what resembled detention facilities. When I think about that, I think about a book that my grade ten English teacher made me read “Lord of the flies”. I have no doubt that the experience shaped those children in a way they will never be able to escape.

The crazy continued with shootings all over the USA. CBS news reported there were 15,568 gun deaths as a result of homicides, suicides, and accidents. There were also 29,568 people injured by guns. Those numbers are a new world record but the one shooting that sticks in my head is the one in El Paso. 23 people were killed and another 23 injured in a Walmart store (that sold guns).

I was discussing the state of the USA at lunch one day with some friends at work and the topic changed to road rage. My colleague commented that he was guilty of road rage at times, but that he wouldn’t consider it an option in the USA. When I asked him why he said it was because everyone carried guns. Later when I thought back on that conversation I wondered what he was really trying to say and what does that say about the rest of us?

I started thinking about past crazy and thought back to New Years Eve 1999. There were so many people convinced that the world was going to end, there was a nervous excitement in the air. It seems crazy looking back on that night 2o years later, but in comparison that was nothing.

I have not lost faith in people, even though I have days where I’m not a fan [grin]. We continue to evolve and improve ourselves. If you have a smart phone, it’s almost impossible to get lost, appointments are at your fingerprints and you are one click away from the latest news. The news on the other hand…. a topic for another post.

If all that wasn’t enough, the year ended with Covid-19.

For me 2019 will always be the start of “A special kind of crazy”.

Track 5 on the album “Wind & Fire”

http://northof60.hearnow.com

 

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The Person I Am

I’ve BLOG’s on this before, but it’s even more applicable in current times.

I’ve always known that there was something different about my upbringing. My mother raised me and my two brothers and sister to reflect her values and one of those values was how to treat people. The key word in that last sentence is People. She was very clear that there is no such thing as black people, yellow people, brown people, there are just people. She was also clear that there should be no special treatment for women over men or vice versa.

On that last point she may have missed the mark just a bit. I listened to what I was taught and when I played co-ed hockey in public school, I hit the girls just as hard as the guys. That didn’t end well and was actually not the right thing to do. I was a very literal child.

Earlier in 2019, I found myself uncomfortable with posts and emails from the LGBTQ community at work. I was concerned that perhaps I was becoming racist in some way and spent several weeks analyzing my feelings. I was on the way back from the studio in Perth listening to CBC radio and I heard an interview with Ibram Kendi. He had recently published a book called “How to be an antiracist” and the interviewer was asking him questions about the book. He explained that growing up as a Jamaican in the USA, he was told at an early age that he was different. He looked back on his childhood and realized that the way he was living his life was racist. He explained that he was on a course that would have stunted his education and handicapped him from reaching his full potential. He wrote the book to explain that being an antiracist requires people to realize the subtle things that we do that cause us to be racist.

I realized at that moment that I already was an antiracist. Things like “Black Lives Matter” make me uncomfortable because I don’t recognize that the colour of a person’s skin makes them any different than me. The sexual preferences of an individual does not make them different either. In order to beat racism we have to treat each other as people and stand up as people against things that define us any other way. The black lives matter movement is long overdue and I support them and their cause, I just don’t agree with the name.

We need to irradiate racism, white privilege and anything else that treats people different because we are not different. We need to make sure that everything we do is inclusive not divisive. We need to discourage groups from selecting names and slogans that promote differences.

Only then will racism cease to exist.

“The person I am” is track number 13 on the album “Wind & Fire”.

http://northof60.hearnow.com

..FG..

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Warming

The change of seasons in Canada breaks the year into blocks that effect our moods, our productivity and our schedules. For example, cleaning the windows is not a good idea when it’s -40 degrees C outside. Sometimes Canadians need a break from the cold and if they can afford it, they head south. The concept of a winter break is something that my wife and I just started doing now that the family has dispersed to the four corners of the planet.

The winter of 2018 was a particularly brutal one, so I was on a plane to Mexico to meet up with my wife. The plan was to spend one week in Playa del Carmen and one week in San Miguel Allende. There’s not much to do on a plane, so I was letting my mind wander and I started to think about a book I had recently read by a professor at Berkly. (Richard Muller)

The book was called “Physics for future Presidents” and was meant to be a resource for presidents that didn’t necessarily have a deep knowledge of physics. He addressed a number of interesting issues, but one of the issue he talked about was global warming. In the book he explained that there had been a number of scientifically sound proposals to reverse the effects of global warming, but there was no appetite to implement them. He postulated that political parties need issues to talk about at election time and global warming was a good one. If they solved the issue, they would have to find another one. I don’t think he was trying to suggest a conspiracy, but it’s something to think about.

I was thinking about the book when I looked out the window and there was a cloud looking back at me. The cloud looked like an older, wise man’s face, with a longish grey beard. Fusing the two thoughts together, I imagined that he was telling me that he was running out of patience and that I needed to do something about global warming.

I decided that the best thing I could do at the time, was to write a song to expose the fact that not all problems that can be solved, will be solved.

Track #14 on “Wind&Fire”

..FG..

 

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The Fire

The concept of retirement is a relatively new thing proposed by German Chancellor Otto Bismarck in 1889. “Those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state”, he said. It wasn’t until post WW2 that the concept came to the new world and since then, has been equated to being free – “Freedom 55”.

I have been lucky in that by complete chance, I chose a field that has allowed me to make a good wage, be challenged and have fun every day. I still get people asking me when I’m going to retire so my response to them is “I retired in 1981 when I graduated and I have been having fun ever since.”

That doesn’t mean that I might like to have the ability to focus on different things going forward, but as long as I can get paid to do the things I like to do, why would I quit working? It also doesn’t mean that circumstance might change. I realize that life is uncertain and that we have to be able to adapt.

I have read a number of books on Gerontology and there are two things that scientists believe contribute to long healthy lives. Controlling what we eat or a calorie reduced diet and having a reason to live. The reason to live must have consequences for you and others to overcome our innate desire to be lazy. Gerontologists believe that by studying something called the “The Longevity Quotient”, humans should have a healthy life span of 200 years. Gerontologists consider aging a disease and continue to study and propose  ways to maximize a human life.

For me the drive to keep learning, to make the world a better place, to advance science and knowledge and make music, is what I call “The Fire”. Without the fire I wouldn’t know what to do and I’m sure my days would be numbered.

Track #12 on the album “Wind & Fire”

http://northof60.hearnow.com

..FG..

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One Foot in Heaven

Seems like I have been able to find the time to create and schedule a few more posts this week. Today I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the story behind the song “One Foot in Heaven”. If you look at the story from a different angle you can find solace where there seems to be nothing but pain.

Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday, but we lost her in 2013. She was diagnosed with Alzheimers at age 70 and over the next few years her health and cognitive abilities degraded quickly. She was the oldest of nine children and lived her entire life for others. She sang in the choir, was an elder at church, she visited people in homes and raised four of her own children.

She told me once that she never wanted to be placed in a home, so it was particularly hard for me to do that after she wandered out on a cold winter’s night in just a night gown. If a neighbour hadn’t stopped her eight blocks away from the house, she probably would have frozen to death because she was heading in the wrong direction.

In the few years that followed she forgot everything about who she was and her health continued to fail.

When I reflected on the experience several years later, I decided that it couldn’t be possible that a life like hers would end in such suffering. I reasoned that what actually happened was she was rewarded for her human endeavours and allowed to have one foot in heaven while her body rested here on earth.

Happy birthday mom.       Song #9 on the album “Wind & Fire”

http://northof60.hearnow.com

..FG..

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Evolution

The next in my continuing series of posts, is a look at how evolution has changed how we interact with our environment.

I have a 2009 Jeep Wrangler and it has allowed me to escape to some places that would be hard to reach otherwise. It was on one such escape, that I decided to kill the engine and observe nature at work. I watched a hawk circling above a clearing before it dived to try to catch a small furry creature (A field mouse I think).

I closed my eyes and focused on some of my other senses like Hearing & Smell.

I heard frogs, crickets, birds and insects, but I didn’t hear cars, people and planes. I realized that the direction the sounds were coming from, was not always obvious and that the level of the sounds could indicate the distance they were from where I was standing.

I smelt the wet earth, flowers, grass and some of the trees. I wondered what it was like to live as a human before civilization. I would bet that smell, sight and hearing would have played a much more significant role in my day to day survival.

I had previously read, that as humans, we are limited by our senses and that there are creatures like singing mice and bats that communicate at frequencies outside of our hearing range. I wondered what it would be like to hear supersonic and subsonic sounds. Turns out, there’s an app for that. The iPhone app does frequency shifting so you can listen to things outside of your hearing range. I haven’t tried it yet, maybe next time.

I remembered that at several times in my life, I had experienced a lack of sound. I remembered being in the forest when everything suddenly went quiet. My sub-conscience raised my anxiety level and put me on high alert. It was like the animals of the forest were telling me something bad was about to happen, so I should prepare for the worst. The silence was followed by a crack of thunder and a torrential down pour.

All of this reflection made me realize the important role that sound and smell play in nature and that mosquito repellant is something I should carry in the jeep at all times. 🙂

I realized that modern humans have allowed ourselves to neglect the importance of some senses that animals still rely on. I was surprised to remember that those animals still communicate with me on some level and that the wind plays a pivotal role in the distribution of natural’s information.

“The Wind” is track number 15 on the album “Wind & Fire”.

http://northof60.hearnow.com

..FG..

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Conversation

This is the story behind the song “Conversation”

I found myself at an open mic one night where a guy at the bar bought me a beer because he liked my set. I had decided to play some Doobie Brothers that night and I guess he was a fan. In any case, I felt that I should take a few minutes to have a chat with him. The conversation started off normal enough, but then I could feel it slipping into more contentious territory. This was prior to Covid, but I think that people who believe things they read on the Internet are particularly prone to forming wild ideas that disconnect them from reality. For this individual, that was the case and think it has gotten worse for people like him since the lockdown.

I’ve found and BLOG’d about how certain politicians have made it acceptable to say things that were previously kept to ones self. As the conversation progressed, I found myself talking less and less to avoid setting off the pent up anxiety that this person was waiting to let loose. When there was a break in the conversation, I was able to excuse myself, but the experience has made me cautious about who I talk to and what I say.

A few weeks later I arrived late in Playa Del Carman and went to the resort’s restaurant for a snack. My wife was going to join me there the next day, so I was by myself. When the meal was done, I discovered that I was the only one left in the restaurant with half a dozen waiters. We chatted for a while and they asked me if there was anything else I needed. Jokingly, I said that I could really use a guitar and commented that it was too expensive for me to bring my own. The head waiter went away and came back with a junior waiter who offered me his guitar for the week. I played a few covers for them and they asked me if I would perform at the restaurant the next evening. I told them that I was flattered but that my wife was coming and that I should be a good husband and focus on her.

The next morning, I wrote the song “Conversation” while swinging in a hammock on my cabana’s front porch. When I completed the song, I gave the guitar back to the waiter and slipped a tip into the guitar bag.

During the production of the song, my cousin added a synth violin part. The part was good but the synth just didn’t do it justice. A few other friends in the Ottawa music community suggested that I speak with a young talented violinist in Toronto (Brigit O’Regan). She took the original violin part and added her own flare. The result is track number 4. I hope you enjoy it.

If you want to checkout the album you can preview tracks and get links to music providers at http://northof60.hearnow.com

..FG..

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